St. Louis Art Capsules

Jessica Baran encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

St. Louis Art Capsules
Frank Schwaiger, Sphinx, 2010, limestone, 2 by 2 by 4 feet, courtesy of Bruno David Gallery.

Newly Reviewed
Featured Review: Violence Not the interpersonal kind, but the conceptual variety, in which materials, traditions and methods are roughed up and reimagined in ways that express certain antagonistic impulses. Noting a broad cultural current of "violence that is not violence" — perhaps better known as passive aggression — Violence gathers the work of six artists from St. Louis, Kansas City and Chicago who perform all-but-destructive acts through or upon their work. Molly Zuckerman-Hartung affixes torn strips of thrift-store jeans to a small stretched canvas that hangs adjacent to a jagged swath of raw canvas. Justin Gainan scrupulously frames small discarded pieces of dirty paper salvaged from the framing process itself, resulting in what appears to be memorialized detritus. And Brandon Anschultz severs two paintings and conjoins two of their halves in a work that elegantly bears the scars of otherwise brutal deconstruction. Also included are photographs by Natalee Cayton that bear accompanying subscripts describing all they failed to capture, and a video by Michael Sirianni called Blanks, which repeatedly captures the burst of a moment when a television is shut off. Through January 15 at Los Caminos, 2649 Cherokee Street; www.loscaminosart.com. Hours: by appointment.

Maturity and Its Muse The only two traits shared by the artists in this wildly eclectic show of sculpture, painting, drawing, photography and then some is that they're based in St. Louis and on the other side of age 70. And they wear these aspects well. As the first exhibition by the new, locally based nonprofit of the same name (which aims to support positive and productive aging through creativity in the arts), M and Its M has managed to gather a deeply accomplished group of individuals whose biographies and personal accomplishments alone could have provided substance for an exhibition. But the art does not fail to deliver, ranging from quilts made of neckties to drawings of roaring orangutans to beak-shaped ceramic pitchers to colorful pop collages to gold chain-mail chokers. Confident diversity is apparently at the heart of growing old gracefully — a message that addresses art's durability or its importance in keeping us young. Through February 5 at the Sheldon Art Galleries, 3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-533-9900 or www.sheldonconcerthall.org. Hours: noon-8 p.m. Tue., noon-5 p.m. Wed.-Fri., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.

Ongoing
Ab/Fig Curated by erstwhile Chicago gallerist Wendy Cooper, this group show focuses on work that deliberately straddles abstraction and figuration. With its signature blurring of an otherwise straightforward female nude, a piece by Gerhard Richter feels like the point of origin for this approach. A cursory glance at a print by Ellen Gallagher appears to explore geometric abstraction, while close inspection reveals a pale overall patterning of full, line-drawn lips, her definitive and racially charged motif. Three water colors by painter Barnaby Furnas feature figures shattered by war wounds or excess smoking; the vamping blonde in Girlfriend 1 and Girlfriend 2 has her vanity dismantled by her bad habit, while the stoic soldier in Bits and Pieces is shattered into blood-colored shards. A series of oil paintings by Katherine Bradford depicts swimmers in various states of wavering submergence, their bobbing heads barely discernible beneath thick passes of paint. Whether this show is yet another response to Clement Greenberg's now half-century-old dictates about the supremacy of abstraction (as the title's play on Ab/Ex suggests), it seems certainly to attest to the argument's persistence. Figuration is alive and well, and apparently living in blithe harmony with its non-objective antagonists, producing a new brand of perfectly acceptable if not altogether traditional contemporary art. Through January 15 at William Shearburn Gallery, 4735 McPherson Avenue; 314-367-8020 or www.shearburngallery.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat.

Kent Addison, Donald and Picasso #2179, watercolor, lanaquarella, cold press, 140 lb., courtesy of artist.
Kent Addison, Donald and Picasso #2179, watercolor, lanaquarella, cold press, 140 lb., courtesy of artist.

Roger Ackling Using rescued pieces of driftwood collected during ocean-side walks, British artist Ackling crafts intimate minimalist sculptures whose presence far exceeds their small scale. Softly weathered but sharp in form, the pyramidal, cubic and rectangular wood pieces are etched with meticulous burnt striations, created by training the sun's rays through a magnifying glass. These lines, which cover the diminutive items' full surface area, move steadily over and between the occasional bent and rusted nail. The work speaks as much in its finished form as it does of its means of arriving there: distilling a habitual communion with nature — from ritual walks to the studied harnessing of the sun — the small sculptures are products of the elements as much as they are of the artist's hand. Jewel-like, the ten pieces appear as relics to moments perhaps otherwise quantified as trivial, when nothing was uttered and no greater action occurred than the lapping of waves and the clearance of a cloud layer. Through January 22 at Schmidt Contemporary Art, 615 North Grand Boulevard; 314-575-2648 or www.schmidtcontemporaryart.com. Hours: noon-5 p.m. Wed.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. and by appointment.

Ahmet Ogut: Underestimated Zones Amsterdam-based Turkish artist Ahmet Ogut stages a number of interventions that blend political activism with Buster Keaton-esque slapstick, highlighting the too-fine distinction between absurdity and moral efficacy. In one series of photographs, the artist has hung a sign, guerrilla-style, in undisclosed but distinctly urban St. Louis locations. The sign reads: "Under 23 Hour Surveillance," the Orwellian aura of ubiquitous intrusion undermined by the potential for a random hour of unsupervised chaos. Elsewhere a dual slide projection transforms two unsuspecting commuter cars into a taxi and a police vehicle, via awkward paper appliqués the artist affixes surreptitiously. In spliced-together videos, Ogut reconfigures a sign that says "Amsterdam" so that it reads "Dreams," "Desert" and "Damned"; human figures slither through the life-size letters in a manner that suggests animals, or pestilence. And in a notable real-time infiltration, Ogut has paved one of Laumeier's galleries in fresh asphalt. The resurfaced space is as succinct in effect as it is multivalent: Appearing like an urban spoof of Walter De Maria's "Earth Rooms," the black granulated material glimmers like spilled precious stones and exudes a distinctly pungent scent that, to the modern senses, is as redolent as seasonal flowers. Also showing — Things We Count, a short dream-like film that pans through a boneyard of defunct WWII aircraft in the Arizona desert: The abandoned fighter planes look harrowingly gorgeous, like a collection of ominous antiques. Through January 9 at Laumeier Sculpture Park, 12580 Rott Road, Sunset Hills; 314-615-5278 or www.laumeier.org. Fall-winter hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed.-Fri., noon-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. (Outdoor grounds open daily from 8 a.m. to a half-hour past sunset.)

1
 
2
 
3
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...